Taking Advantage of the Resources Around You in an Academic Setting


Blog post by SimGHOSTS USA Officer Mark Johanneck.


The health care community often talks about the various silos in which students are taught which does not reflect the reality they will find once they are in practice and working as part of a team of care givers.  There is always talk and interest in trying to break down those silos and achieve a more interprofessional and interdepartmental approach in the clinical education realm.  I think there is so much to be gained and so many resources available to many of us as simulation specialists/technicians if we look beyond the walls of our own silo of clinical education.

As simulation specialists/technicians we are expected to wear many different hats in our day to day duties. We are often the most technically proficient person in the room but we also need to have some basic knowledge on a whole litany of other fields such as theater for setting a stage,moulage, audio- visual for lighting, sound and film editing, education and adult learning theory, basic sciences like anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and the list continues.

Many of us work in an academic setting whether that is at a nursing school, a medical school, an academic hospital or some other institution that is tied to a larger campus community.  These academic settings often afford us a great opportunity to reach out beyond the health care field in which we are embedded and seek help from those in a wide array of other professions which we touch on in our daily work.  Often times these other schools and groups are eager to collaborate if we reach out and make the connection.

One way our simulation lab has greatly benefited from the larger campus community in which we live was to create a strong working relationship with our Biomedical Engineering (BME) School.  Every semester the biomedical engineering students on campus actively seek semester long group projects.  We have been lucky enough to be involved in a few of these projects.  One of the projects we collaborated on with a group of BME students was for a humeral head interosseous injection model.  The need for such a model was identified by an emergency medicine physician who serves as the medical director for the county’s emergency medical services.  After searching for a commercially available product to fill the need we found that none currently existed.  At that point we contacted our BME School to see if any of the student groups would like to take on the project.  We were lucky enough that an eager group of students took on the project.  It was a collaborative effort between our ED faculty, the simulation program and the BME students which resulted in a working task trainer that allows us to place an IO in the humeral head.

Since that initial collaboration our lab has served as a resource for at least one group of BME students each semester even if the project they are working on is not specific to our lab.  They often stop in to ask about various materials for making skin since we create our own suture pads (I did a previous blog post on this topic) or to look at commercially available products we own.

This is just one example of what I believe are a a wealth of resources available to many of us who work in a larger academic setting.  I could imagine collaborative opportunities with the theater department to create a stage setting or to recruit actors.  Working with film students to create training or promotional videos.  Working with marketing and public relations students to come up with creative advertising campaigns for both internal and external potential users.  I think there are potentially many useful collaborations just waiting to be explored in the larger setting of an academic institution.